Are you sick of giant art books that you can barely pick and that crush you even if you do manage to lift them? This tiny little book has hundreds of great artists referenced alphabetically. It also has a really cool cross-reference that leads you to other artists that are somewhat similar in style. It a great book to help feed your creative spirit. Its a great way to inject a little art into your life.
This valuable little book, at approximately 6-1/2 by 5 inches, packs a lot of information and pleasure into a little package. Five hundred artists, from Agasse to Zurbaran, are represented. To each painter or sculptor one page is devoted, featuring a full-color print (covering about two-thirds of the page); a paragraph of text that discusses the artist's work in general, the specific work depicted, and cross-references to similar artists; information about the artist and the piece including the artist's place and year of birth and death, the work's title, date, medium/materials, physical dimensions and current location.
Presented alphabetically rather than chronologically, this dynamic little tome makes great browsing, and helps you to look at art in a way we don't usually -- outside of its historical context. The color plates and paper are of the first quality, and the text is delightful -- as if you had a very smart and articulate mentor who could describe an artist or a movement in a way that actually makes sense. I've read several books on artistic aesthetics, hoping to find a better appreciation for the art that I mainly enjoy viscerally and IMHO, these pithy remarks do as well or better than those whole books.
It's fun to see which work was chosen as typical of your favorite artists, and it's fun to try and guess the period in which an artist worked before you read the information. Just the kind of book to leave out when guests are over, and the price is so reasonable and the size so manageable that this is an art book I can leave out for kids to enjoy too.
Because so much is fit into such a small volume, some readers may be frustrated at the small print, though the font is quite clean. The book closes with glossaries of technical terms and artistic movements, and a directory of museums and galleries, organized by country, that includes address, phone number and a list of the book's works that they own. I hope the next edition will also include web sites.
In this fast, fast, faster world, it might be good to take a few minutes and look at some pictures, eh? Phaidon Press has done us a service by publishing this little treasure. They have worked a little miracle to do so at such a great price. Buy this book!